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The Brady Bill and its effect on the industry.

By the time spring arrives, the Brady Bill will be the law of the land. That was guaranteed on Nov. 24 when the Senate passed the bill, requiring a five working-day waiting period for handgun purchases, after days of bitter and complicated debate and maneuvering. On Nov. 29, President Clinton signed it into law, just as he promised to do during his campaign.

The Brady Bill also contained a little surprise for gun dealers: The fee for FFLs jumps to $200 for three years and $90 for three-year renewals.

Sarah and Jim Brady, along with their organization Handgun Control Inc. (HCI), had been pushing the Brady Bill for seven years. They felt that, with the election of Bill Clinton as President (whom they endorsed), 1993 would be their year. They were right.

After the House passed the Brady Bill in early November, a filibuster in the Senate seemed to doom its enactment into law. However, after some dissent among the Republican senators, the Senate passed its version of the Brady Bill by a 63-36 vote.

There were, however, some provisions in the Senate version that the anti-gunners and the BATF did not like. For a time it looked as though the Senate was going to be called back into session following the Thanksgiving holiday to finish its work on the bill, but after some more horse trading, Senate Minority Leader Dole and his fellow Republicans agreed to give unanimous consent for voice vote passage of the Brady Bill on the evening of Nov. 24. Only four senators were present on the Senate floor at that time.

If you were trying to follow the progress of the Brady Bill on television, your head is probably still spinning. And no wonder! On some evenings you could watch one network news program talk about how the Brady Bill had passed and was set to become law, while other networks were reporting that the bill was dead for another year.

The final version of the bill which was signed by the President contained the following:

* A five-day waiting period for the purchase of handguns. (After five years the waiting period will be replaced by a computerized instant background check system.)

* $200 million in grants for states to improve and upgrade their computer record keeping systems.

* A requirement that local law enforcement provide an applicant the reason for a denial within 20 days.

* A requirement that state and local police be notified of multiple handgun sales.

* A prohibition against labeling shipping packages containing firearms (since such labeling only encourages theft).

* A provision making it a federal crime to steal from a licensed firearms dealer with a fine of up to $10,000 and 10 years in prison.

* An increase in the fee for an FFL to $200 for three years and $90 for a three-year renewal.

The compromise that allowed final passage of the Brady Bill in the Senate also provided for a separate vote later on proposals by Dole -- including one that would phase in the instant check after just two years.

Although stung by the Brady Bill's passage, the NRA was quick to point out that the instant check is a proposal they have long endorsed, so in the end they will be the winners. "Passage of the instant check provisions of the Brady Bill makes progress toward protecting the civil rights of law-abiding citizens who purchase handguns -- but no one should make the mistaken assumption that waits or checks will significantly affect violent crime," said Jim Baker, executive director of the NRA-ILA.

"The interim waiting period does not mandate a background check in the 27 states it affects (23 states with a majority of the U.S. population already have longer waiting periods on the books). It's a smokescreen that will do nothing about violent crime."

Baker added, "When Congress reconvenes, the NRA will work to pass legislation to establish a national instant check system within two years, utilizing the existing 18 million criminal records that are currently available in the Interstate Identification Index.

"In addition, the bill will deny federal funds to states which do not make available records of those people who have been adjudicated mentally incompetent or committed to mental institutions, keeping with the 1968 federal law which prohibits the sale of firearms to these individuals."

Once the instant check system is in effect, when a customer comes in to purchase a handgun, his or her name will be simply run through a computer system, much like a credit card. If the customer has a clean record, the purchase will be approved.

But not all pro-gun legislators are as enthusiastic about an instant check system as the folks at NRA. "Despite all they tell us about safeguards, an instant check system is simply another step toward national gun registration," said Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America.

President Clinton hailed passage of the Brady Bill as "a wonderful Thanksgiving present for the American people ... It will be a beginning -- a beginning in what must be a long and relentless assault on the problems of crime and violence in this country."

Unfortunately, the anti-gunners have made it crystal clear they consider the Brady Bill just the first in a series of anti-gun bills they hope to push through Congress.
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Title Annotation:gun industry
Author:Schneider, Jim
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jan 1, 1994
Words:881
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